Political Insider

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TV tally: Georgia gov candidates spend more than $12M on campaign ads

The seven candidates for Georgia governor have poured more than $12.7 million into a burst of TV and radio ads ahead of next week’s primary. And there’s more to come as the contenders dig deeper into war chests totaling more than $22 million.

The biggest spender, by far, is Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. The Republican front-runner has spent more than $4.3 million on ads touting his education and economic agenda. He’s been bolstered by $1 million more from Citizens for Georgia’s Future, a pro-Cagle outside group. 

Stacey Evans snapped up the most airtime of either Democrat, spending at least $1.3 million through the weekend, according to an analysis conducted by Strategic Media Services. 

Her rival, former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, has spent a relatively meager $500,000 on ads, and records show she wasn’t on air in metro Atlanta during stretches of April and May. 

Her campaign has focused on grass-roots engagement of voters, and she’s said traditional TV-focused advertising is no longer as effective as it once was.

But she can afford the hands-off approach thanks to plenty of backup from third-party groups. BlackPAC, PowerPAC Georgia and Emily’s List combined to spend nearly $2 million boosting her campaign, giving Abrams air cover the last two months of the race. 

On the Republican front, Secretary of State Brian Kemp has now spent more than $1.5 million on airtime, steadily increasing his buys to pair with attention-grabbing ads. Two other rivals, former state Sen. Hunter Hill and executive Clay Tippins, have spent about $1 million each. 

A fifth candidate, state Sen. Michael Williams, is also in the race. 

In all, about $9.1 million was spent on ads for the Republican campaigns, while Democrats have shelled out more than $3.6 million. 

Read more recent AJC coverage of the campaign for governor:

Shifting political ground pushes Georgia candidates away from center  

Abrams, Evans sharpen attacks over HOPE in gov forum  

Georgia 2018: Evans bets on gambling as new divide in gov race  

Abrams banks on debt as advantage in final stretch of gov race  

Brian Kemp: His pitch to conservatives leans hard on law and order  

Clay Tippins: Executive aims to send waves through governor’s race  

Michael Williams: Senator has been Trump backer with similar tactics  

Why Georgia Republicans are shifting to the right on guns  

Hunter Hill: Military vet wages running war on ‘career politicians’  

Casey Cagle: A GOP favorite tries to fend off conservative attack  

How Gov. Deal is shaping the race to succeed him  


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.